Mrs. J. Morgan Smith
Dear friend and relative;
By such title II am persuaded to call you after reading the contents of
your kind letter of August 16th instant. by being conversant with some of
the facts set forth in your letter, I know and am sure the same blood flows in
our veins, having the same ancestry. I am a grandson of Sion Harrington who was an older brother of your great grandfather, Drury Harrington, and I am in the 79th year of age. A full and satisfactory answer to your inquiries could have been given fifty years ago but the old land marks have passed off the stage of action, and much we would mutually prize is lost in the mist of antiquity. I am glad to be of some advantage to you in what you desire.Your letter came fifty years too late for a full and satisfactory answer as it has been one of the regrets of my declining years that I could have known so much and yet retained so little relative to the early histry of the Harrington family. In like manner, much that is valuable to th historian is lost before the chronicler emblams it in history. While I do not remember dates, the facts I propose to narrate, you may accept as being outstandingly true. Thomas Harrington, my father, was the son of Sion Harrington and was born in Pittsboro in Chatham Co., N.C., April 5, 1779 and from him I obtained what knowledge I have of the genealogy of the Harrington family. Many and
many a time when I sat around the hearthside, I have heard him tell the story of his ancestry as received from his forefathers, which had I committed to writing, would now clear the page of conjecture and rivet many a broken chain. The Harringtons are of English descent. Charles Harrington, the projenitor of the Harringtons, came from England and settled in Halifax Co., Va. but in what year I cannot now determine. How long he resided there I do not know. It is highly probable he had brothers who came with him and settled there in the same place as I have recently learned there are quite a num ber of Harringtons in Halifax Co. About the year 1750, Charles Harrington emigrated to Chatham Co., N.C. and panted a large tract of land where the town of Pittsboro now stands. Charles Harrington, by his marriage to Agnes Hill, had nine sons and 2 daughters. Charles, Jr. was the oldest son and married as you say, Patience Brazelle, a lady of French (?) extraction. Then there was Sion, Drury, Whitmel, Philemon, Enoch, Isaac and Thomas. Thomas married Raynor Higdon, Sion married Elizabeth Watts and to that union was born three sons and one daughter; Abner, Thomas, Sion and Nancy. His first wife dying, he married for the second time, Ann Dalrymple and the fruit of this union was John, William, Charles, Elizabeth and Mary. John was a Presbyterian minister, prominent in his church and after preachng for awhile in Robeson Co., N.C. he moved too S. C. and married Miss Elvira Hutson and they had two sons and three daughters. One of his sons was killed in the late Civil War between the States and all of his daughters married Presbyterian clergymen and one of his granddaughters married the justly celebrated Dr. J. I. Mack of the Presbyterian Church and who, I believe, is now doing evangelical work in the State of Georgia. John used to visit your great grandfather Drewry Harrington when he resided in S.C. William Dalrymple Harrington was married four times. His sons were Cyrus, Elam and Henry. His daughters were Eliza, Elizabeth, Annie and Eugenia. Cyrus, after graduating from the University of North Carolina, studied
for the ministry and after obtaining his license to preach, emigrated to Louisiana where he attained distinction in the Presbyterrian Church. He died last Spring. Henry, a mere youth, was killed at Five Forks when Lee's lines were broken at Petersbury in April, 1865. Eliza married a Dr. Wilcox, Elizabeth married Langston McIver who was killed in the late war. Annie married a Mr.McGilvary who was a Presbyterian minister but is now dead. Eugenia died
young and unmarried. Charles married Penelope Thomas first, Tabitha Cook,
second and Jane Marks, third. Children of first marriage were Benjamen, Sion, John, William, Thomas, Polk, George, Ann, Janet, Mary and Nancy. By his second marriage none and a son Charles by Jane Marks. Elizabeth married a McAuley and Mary married a Dauglas. Late in life they moved to Alabama and died there . Their son, William, still lives there and is a minister in the Methodist Church. Abner married Nancy Brown of Chatham Co., and they had twelve sons and four daughters. Thomas married Ann Stephen in the year 1805. Her parents came from Glasgow, Scotland. Their children were James, Elizabeth, William, Sion, John (the writer), Thomas, Mary, Benjamen, Anson and Flinn. Benjamen and Anson died young. With the exception of Flinn who died camparatively young, all lived to a ripe old age. but two remain at this writing, Mrs. Arnold and myself. Sion, after reaching his majority, moved to that protion of Iredell Co., which is now Alexander Co., where he died in 1867 at the advanced age of 86 yrs. He married a Miss Brown and their sons were William, John, Sion, Charles and Enoch, The girls' names were forgotten. John was living at Sherman, Texas where he died a few years since. The fate of war made William a cripple for life and he is living in Taylorsville, N.C. Elisha is living in Kansas and his P.O. is Clearwater, Sedgewick Co. He paid us a visit in the winter of 1888. He told me one or more of his brothers had removed from N.C. to Tenn. since the war. Charles Harrington, your great-great grandfather, died some time prior to the revolutionary War and his oldest son, according to the existing laws under King George III, inherited all the landed estate of his father. Tradition says he was an easy-go free kind of man and lost more than once on a horse race. Though the landed estate was large, land at that time had no great monetary value and a fast life soon dissipated all that was of any value. The other sons, being deprived of any share of the estate by inheritance, usually sought new homes. Some went on way and some went another. Drewry, as you well know, moved to S.C. on "Broad river" as we understood it. Here I will relate an incident of a visit Drewry Harrington made to Sion Harrington as told to me by my father who was a boy at that time and was present. Sion Harrington was living near the present town of Jonesboro then and Drewry paid him a visit on horseback as was the mode of travel in that day and time. They had not seen one another for years and years and on the day of his arrival he found his brother Sion, with a number of neighbors, engaged in raising a log house. The old fellows were upon the walls notching away for dear life when suddenly a stranger rode up, and in a very insulting manner, began to criticize their work. This was naturally resented that a stranger should make himself a party in a case in which he could have no earthly interest. Railing answered for railing when the workmen hotly informed the stranger they would go down and lick him out of his boots. But the horseman continued to ride around the walls of the imposing structure. Tiring of that he reigned up his horse and looked fiercely at the angered crowd. My grandfather on scrutinizing him a little closer, dropped his axe and exclaimed, "Drew, you rascal you, is it possible you have deceived me so?" He was instantly recognized by his old friends and acquaintances and such a hand shaking followed it was readily decided the house could better be finished in another day. The fatted calf was killed, the great brown jug was brought out and the stopper came forth with an unusually mellow "phum." The coup of kindness was taken for friendship's sake and lest the sun should go down on their wrath, doubtless took another one of the sake of "Auld Lang Syne." Such was the re-union after years of separation. That they ever met again, I have no means of ascertaining. Charles and Whitmel emigrated to Tennessee. This happened in the later part of the last century. Charles, I understand after residing for a while in Tennessee, settled on the Scioto River in the State of Ohio. There is some probability in this as a son of mine, who a few years ago resided in Columbus, Ohio for a short while, found a firm of Harrington's doing a mercantile business in that place. Isaac lived and died in Chatham Co., N.C. His descendants, though not numerous, are still found on rocky river. Of Enoch's life I know nothing. I am under the impression one of the old patriarchs settled in Georgia. I have read the letters you have sent me from our Texas kinsman with sincere pleasure. He is undoubtedly a scion of the original Harrington tree. How they have multiplied and scattered. Omniscience can tell the seventy souls that accompanied Jacob into Egypt and returned four hundred years later a mighty host. It seems as if Charles Harrington's descendants could be marshaled in one army. They would be like old Scotch Malcolm Smiths friends, "numerous." As I told you before, I have no clue to locate any of Charles Harrington's descendants except my grandfather Sion's and Drewry's. I know Drewry went to South Carolina and located on broad river an later on carried his brother-in-law Abner Landrum with him while Charles and Whitmill went to Fort Deer, Tenn. followed by Thomas some years later. Your letter to me was the first authentic information I had had of any of the brothers and I can never thank you sufficiently for your uncomplaining kindness and I sincerely pray your researches may result in the full fruition of all your most cherished hopes. I know the path is beset with difficulties that now all the landmarks are gone, which in the absence of written record, afforded the only certain means of proof and identification. But we can at least make sure of what we have and though the younger generation should build wiser than the old, still I am persuaded to believe when all things are considered, they will have no just cause to be ashamed of their ancestors. As the march of emigration from N.C. seemed southward and westward, there is every reason to believe the Harringtons of Tenn., Missouri, Texas and Mississippi are of the same family as ours. We know those of S.C., Ga., and Alabama are of the same line. A superficial glance at our ignorance of each other is really astonishing but the cause is not far to seek and is easy of solution. When we consider the fact, that at the time of separation and exodus of the Harrington brothers, there was not a mile of stage line, much less steamboat or railway travel penetrating the regions to which they emigrated, we can see at once and communication with one another if at all was limited to the slow and arduous journey on horseback. In consequence of which Charles, Whitmill and Thomas never returned to the scenes of their early manhood. While Drewry, so far as I have any knowledge, came back but once. Under the circumstances existing at that time, the heads of the different families died and their children to his day have remained, as it were, in utter ignorance of each other. But light
is dawning and I trust the coming of your letter may be the means of cementing the long broken ties and the ingathering of the lost sheep in the folds of a common brother hood made pleasant lasting in the bonds of a relationship that should be better understood and appreciated.The reception of your letter was both a revelation and a surprise to me and I desire in the outset to heartily thank you for the same. While I was not oblivious of the fact, that according to the course of human events, I had or should have numerous relatives in the States south and west of me, I had despaired of ever establishing communication with them not knowing who they were nor yet the locality in which they lived. Though in my 79th year, like Jacob of old, I will go and see Joseph before I die. Of course I can only go in spirit but my enthusiasm revolts at being confined withing the circumscribed limits of an ordinary letter and your patience may be taxed but I trust you will bear with me to the finish. Your letter vividly brings to my mind, the light of other days, visions of the past pass in panoramic succession before me. I am a boy again, as it were, sitting around the ancestral fireside, listening to the recital of many of the thrilling events of 1776 that made the blood flow fast and the heart beat quick. But the actors have long since passed away and only a few of their deeds have been rescued from the crumbling touch of time and embalmed by the historian or linger only in tradition and song, while by far the greater part is lost in the mist of antiquity. Much that would be valuable in history is lost before the chronicler gathers the fragments and rescues them from the hands of forgetfulness. In like manner, much we would mutually prize in the early history of our forefathers, is like the lost books of Livy whose pages no mortal will ever behold. Having said this much by way of introduction an answer to some of your questions may be summarized as follows: Thomas Harrington was my father and was born April 5, 1779 in the town of Pittsboro in Chatham Co., and was son of Sion and Elizabeth Watts Harrington and a grandosn of Charles Harrington and Agnes Hill and to him I am indebted to everything I may tell you. I am unable to affix dates with any degree of certainty, yet what I shall relate, you may believe implicitly and accept as being substantially true, believing evidence derived from those who lived nearest the time and place in which an event is said to have occurred so it is the most reliable in the absence of unrecorded history. The Harrington's are of English descent - Charles Harrington came from England to America and settled in Halifax Co., Va., and after residing there for a short while, he made his course southward and settled in Chatham Co, N.C. where on the present town of Pittsboro now stands. The dates of his settling in Halifax Co., and his subsequent removal to N.C. are alike unknown to me. The date of land grants may approximate the time but not conclusively so - from the fact many of the grants were often issued years prior to the occupancy of the lands by the settler while, in the other instance, the reverse was often the case. The probability is he came to America as early as 1740. Now whether he married before or after coming to north Carolina is an open question, one which I have no means of determining. The Hills you refer to in Footes sketches are known to me only as a matter of History and that they were connected to Agnes Hill may or may not be true. Harrington is the name Charles brought from England, a name his descendants in this country have always
borne and never disgraced it and if we have retrograded from the days of Sir John Harrington, we can say as Sir Edward Coke of copyhold tenure said, "Though of base descent, we are of most illustrious origin." I will say the Harringtons have no cause to be ashamed of their ancestors but much to be proud of. They are a brave, generous race of people with strong family attachments, having convictions of their own and the courage to enforce them. Among them can be found as fine specimens of phsical and moral manhood and womanhood as can be found in any land on which the sun shines. That trait which is the crowning glory of Harrington manhood is that not one of the name was ever known to be uncivil or unkind to his wife. So universal is this Henry William (Henry) Harrington and our people are one and the same family so my family has told me repeatedly but I do not recollect the degree of kinship. All the male members of Richmond Co. are dead.
(The above paragraph was in a different handwriting. The compiler.)
The records of Charles Harrington's family are perished or carried away by members of the family to distant states. The blank leaves in the family Bible was the sacred repository of family births and deaths. Times wear and tear, the unwitting ignorance of childish fingers all conspire to obliterate the family records. My father, late in life, married Lydia Collierand at her death, her people carried off his family Bible. Had I not retained in memory the dates of births of my brothers and sisters, that would now be lost to me. The order of succession in which Charles Harrington's and Agnes Hill's children were born, I know nothing more than you do. In my youth, I had heard my father rehearse the story time and again but I listened to it with no particular interest and it has been many, many years ago since then. In your statement you said John was the first son. I have recently met a cousin of mine, a grandson of Sion Harrington who corroborates your version of the story. His mother was Elizabeth Harrington, and half-sister of my father. But my father was nearly grown when she was born and had visited his
uncles at their homes, sat around their firesides and slept beneath their roofs, and twice a years made long journeys on horseback to visit his fatherin the latter years of his life. I remember as distinctly as I remember anything that Charles, according to his version, was the eldest son of the family and he often emphasized that fact in speaking of Charles inheriting and wasting the parental estate. The brothers, Charles, Whitmill and Thomas went to Fork Deer, Tenn. I
have already told you that friends credit me with the faculty of "never forgetting anything" but that however is not true. Anything speaking of myself. And I have to rely on my memory of the greater part of the little I know of family history. The people of the New England states are careful in preserving family records. We should not be less so. Your very welcome letter reached me safely and my poverty of language is inadequate to expreess my gratification of the contents whereof. Seldom or never have I received one more to my liking, never one more thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. We fully appreciate your kindly sentiments of esteem and regard and beg to assure you they find a sympathetic response in our affections. Kindred, yet personally unknown strangers until within a short time since and now you seem to us like one of the family long absent talking to us as it were and before I proceed further - as the senior member of the "House of Harrington" in North Carolina, permit me in the name of the various tribes and clans whereof in a quaind old phrase, say to you and all your dear household "Howdy - howdy - howdy." How in life I would have enjoyed meeting your mother and how we could have beguiled the passing moments with many a family story. But, none the less, how dear to me are her children and if it is not asking too much when the busy cares of the day are shut out and when you all gather around your fireside, let you thoughts wander back to the land of your fathers for we be "brethren."
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Total of 42 pages to the Harrington Letter, other pages no logged in yet.
Michael A. Harrington
Deed Bk. B, 1775-1783 pg. 19, April 29, 1775
John Harrington of the Co. of Halifax NC to William Alston of the Co. of Halifax, for 100 pds, 212 acres on the S. side of Robinsons Creek, being part of a tract of land granted by Patent to William Pettey and sold by William Petty Jr. son, to the sd William, to Charles Harrington, Father to the sd John Harrington being also a part of a tract whereon Mial Scurlock now lives and the Court House of Chatham now Stands. Also where Agnis Harrington now lives.
Deed - Union Co., S. C. deed book page 270-271 v2, p 42. 3 Jul 1789 Chas
Harrington and his wife Patience has sold for 50 lbs Sterling to Robert
Rethurford, Senr., 292 ac in 96th District, adjoining Joseph Gilling, Nathl.
Gilkeys, Louis Ledbetter, Moses Gilling and John Leah. Charles and Patience
both signed mark. Wit: Richmond Terrell, John
Sims, John Harrington, Zachariah Bullock J.P.
Gleaned from the internet